Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Larion Senators: The Eldarn Sequence Book 3

SPOILER ALERT! If you have read the 1st 2 books in the Eldarn Sequence: The Hickory Staff & Lessek’s Key, and wish to read on be warned this review contains spoilers. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, but do not wish to ruin anyone’s future enjoyment of the books.

After the tedium of Lessek’s Key I was hoping that the trilogies conclusion; The Larion Senators may provide the gripping conclusion that The Hickory Staff promised.

Unfortunately the early signs were not good. Of the various groups that had been focussed on in the series the least interesting tended to be the one containing the books main protagonist; Steven Taylor. Despite being the wielder of powerful magic Steven is remarkably bland and uninteresting character that I never built up any real attachment to. Most times when the action is with Steven, the cliched and increasingly boring Larion Senator Gilmour and the morose self loathing archer Garec this reader just wanted the story to move on.

Brexan was only covered briefly, she was used mostly as a vehicle to get Steven, Gilmour and Garec to where they needed to be to cross over from Eldarn to our world and ultimately defeat the evil that had first possessed Nerak and now taken over Steven’s best friend and room mate; Mark Jenkins. The idea of turning Mark from hero to villain was a good one, but was unfortunately handled in a confusing manner and the conclusion was not at all believable or satisfying. The subplot concerning Brexan and the spy Jacrys ended with the spy’s death, but I was left wondering why the whole episode was even in the books, because it added virtually nothing and was not relevant to the major plot thread. I got the impression it was possibly an idea that Jay Gordon had initially had, but unable to resolve before he passed away and Robert Scott did not feel he could cut it.

As usual the story built around Hannah Sorenson, the thief Hoyt and the other Larion Senator; Alen was the most interesting as those were the characters I connected best with. They had also added another cliche fantasy character; the unbelievably powerful and precocious child magician. This one’s name was Milla, although the three adults nicknamed her Pepperweed, after an Eldarni herb. Milla’s antics and the things she sometimes said also provided some much needed humour.

They tried to add another humourous character: a talkative and inept partisan, who also happened to be blessed with clairvoyance, I have to confess to liking Stalwick, despite the fact that he seemed to be totally unnecessary and his gift was underused, but the rather grim and humourless crew that he was with certainly needed some lightening and Stalwick did that effectively.

The last 200 pages brought this epic to a thrilling conclusion and gave it a happy ending that was all neatly tied up with a bow. I found the most frustrating thing about the books was the fact that at times there was some really good writing and evidence of a solid trilogy trying to break through, but overall the authors made too many mistakes and did not develop their characters or their world enough for this to happen.

If someone was new to heroic fantasy and wanted to get a feel for the genre The Eldarn Sequence may not be a bad place to start, it’s also an easy enough read if you don’t want to think too hard or explore much, but that type of reader may not want to commit to three books. Overall The Eldarn Sequence was a good try, but simply not handled well enough to entirely succeed.

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